Online Collaboration Software
Published July 13th, 2016 by

Collaborative Software as Business Management Tools

Collaborative Software as Business Management ToolsCollaboration software definition involves coordinated workflows and social interaction combined. It seems to be a broad term, with no specific and meaningful set of uses and advantages. But when thought of with participation of computer technology and systems, it becomes a targeted technique that enables increased productivity and efficiency among the members of the team, or ultimately, among the whole business organization.

The idea of collaborative workflow stemmed from the ideas of virtual office spaces and file systems, that happen in “session” type of work process. Among the kind of work involved are communicating, file sharing and other collaborative business processes and applications. Other work processes involved in larger scope cases include collaborative problem solving, brainstorming, competition or negotiation. Indeed, collaborative softwares are broad in definition and scope. But basically it aims to promote cooperative systems among business organization members, as well as encourage social interactions alongside it.

Collaborative softwares promote a more personal and interactive approach in streamlining workflows within a business organization. Although it is technology based, the focus on its technical and social aspect are almost equal and balanced.

The combination of rather two different ideas poses challenges, and results are subjective on how human participants would respond to what the system will present. The time it takes to arrive to a single, conclusive decision or analysis is not fixed as well. Exchange of insights and ideas must be fluid, in order to attain the highest form of understanding, with specific goals already aligned with it before hand. This is done in order to have a single set of working language, and arrive to a more meaningful conclusion based on common ethics and standards.

Levels of Collaboration

There are three distinct levels of collaboration that the software presents. Generally, to make more effective discussions, a set of guidelines must be adopted to have a clear ground over rules among participants. This is encouraged in order to have a healthy interaction and more productive sessions all the time. More often than not, collaborative softwares enable users to be engaged in one, or more of the following:

  1. Communication – this is the most basic, and foundational among healthy and productive collaborative working environment. Basically, before proceeding with the professional aspect of collaborative work, casual conversation among peers is encouraged to ease each member of the group.
  1. Conferencing – this is the more formal part of going through work related group discussions. Effective communication can help overcome setbacks, inhibitions and uncooperative tendencies, especially when a comfortable working environment has been fostered beforehand. Business discussions usually become heated and aggressive at times, and by implying a more relaxed environment will lessen these tendencies.

Information exchange can lead to dull moments, especially when dealing with technicalities and business jargons. By varying the message tone, and encouraging continuous question and answer conversations may somehow keep the communication channel going. It is not necessary, however, it is better if there will be somebody who will serve as the group moderator, to assist and encourage other members to participate.

  1. Coordination – is a broader aspect of collaboration, wherein individual work should be interdependent with one another to come up with a single shared goal. This is done, by constant communication to support necessary adjustments that have to be made, in order to implement cooperative workflow. This is somehow crucial, especially that all team members are remote with each other, and their sole basis in achieving this kind of technology assisted collaborative process is constant communication.

To support further, it is encouraged to set regular meetings among peers. A tracker should also be included to serve as a “log book” of all important key points that must be met, in accordance with the hierarchy, or order of precedence.

Advantages of Collaborative Software

The use of collaborative softwares imposes a number of significant advantages over individual, or single functioning entity in business activities. Though one may contend that business tools are enough in increasing productivity in workplaces, collaborative efforts, when done in a cooperative manner and timely workflow, will yield faster and more efficient outcomes.

Collaborative softwaresboost effective communication that is engaging and crisp. This is to ensure that  information and insight exchange is real time, continuous and uninterrupted.

Collaborative softwares also introduce web based communication platform, that is believed to have surpassed the telephone systems in terms of quality. Having an alternative way of communicating may encourage participants who are comfortable with this kind of exchange, to speak up and contribute more to the project.

Collaborative softwares encourage diverse industry based, or various field experts, to participate in information and insight exchange, in relation to the nature of the shared goal. This allows a more dynamic and powerful learning environment, wherein participants are free to ask questions, or answer the ones that they have substantial knowledge with.

Collaboration softwares also allow free exchange of different perspectives, which may not be seen if only a single individual will work on the same goal. Typically, key issues or important points are multi-faceted, and collaborative decision making is more of a sound choice to make, for more accurate and positive result.

Being technology and web based business tool, collaborative softwares make a time saving solution in coordinating team members coming from different geographical locations. It is also economical concerning travel costs. Coordination is greatly improved as well, as everybody is operating in a single working environment, with all the necessary tools to execute work are already integrated with its system. The members just have to report, and sessions can immediately start or resume automatically.

Collaborative social softwares can also promote understanding of how social interaction affects work, either positively or negatively. Most people are visually stimulated, or by other driving factors that affect his performance. Putting different kinds of behavior, temperament and work ethics can result either in chaos or a better organization. Either way, professional people tend to solve differences beforehand, especially that the focus is the accomplishment of the shared goals.

Collaboration software is predicted to play important roles in businesses, according to 75% of its respondents in a survey. Alongside, it was found that it improved team efficiency by 20%, according to an infographic in 2013.

Applications of Collaborative Software

Groupware software are being utilized in different business scenarios and activities. Different business activities involved in collaborative software are as follows:

  1. Time management – this is particularly important in streamlining work flows according to schedule, to ensure that deliverables will be done in a timely manner. Digital calendars can create alerts and reminders to immediately notify a participant, or the entire group, of their specific agenda.
  2. Project management – this includes both quantity and quality control relating to outputs. It is also a must that specific steps or order of priorities is met and accomplished in the specified time frame. All team members’ individual performances are also tracked in order to establish better coordination.
  3. Work proofing – this is the process of making relative remarks over works which are output based. This is to facilitate a collaborative way of sharing, editing, approving or rejecting.
  4. Streamlining workflows – working in a collaborative environment ensures that workflows are streamlined, which is concurrently aligned with the list of shared goals as well. Streamlined workflows also utilize common touch points such as language, business tools, working platform, user interface and work ethics.
  5. Knowledge gathering and sharing– collaborative software encourage exchange of information and knowledge among professionals of different expertise, to have a better understanding of each individual roles, in relation with other team members’ abilities. Effective communication measures must be implemented in order to establish uninterrupted and highly engaging sessions or discussions.
  6. Social software – focus on the human aspect of collaborative behavior, which is associated with his or her involvement, reciprocity, or responsiveness among different business activities. It is also important to foster healthy relationships among peers or members of the organization, to create a more comfortable working environment. Free and open exchange of insights, perspectives and expertise, promote grounds for learning and sensitivity in putting the needs of others, or of the organization as a whole, in the priority list.

Social software can be dealt in another perspective, which promotes data sharing due to common need and common industry basis, such are the likes of social media groups involving similar interests or work background. This type of information exchange, impacts the way the next generation will go about the knowledge shared within its system.

  1. Online spreadsheets – online spreadsheets enable viewing and sharing of structured data and information based on shared goals and applications. Being web based, this can be easily accessed both in desktop and mobile devices like the smartphones and tablets.
  2. Client portals – client portals are similar to VPN, which allows interaction between businesses and their clients. This is made as an internet based private networks, exclusively for clients and concerned employees only. Privacy is imposed so that clients will have no apprehensions in revealing classified information, or in raising critical questions in a more professional manner. This also makes clients “direct” to the concerned person almost right away.

Collaborative softwares make an important concept in implementing effective business decisions through the joint efforts of concerned, or even the whole business organization.

Take part in the growing number of people who discovered the benefits of deploying top collaboration softwares in their businesses. Do check out reviews of collaboration software for a more detailed look.

Trevor Price

Trevor Price helps small businesses leverage mobile technology to reach their audience and extend their capabilities in delivery, information, and tracking.

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